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Trattoria da Leo - Cucina Casalinga in Lucca Italy - Restaurant Review

Cheap Eats in Lucca

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Trattoria da Leo lucca Italy

Trattoria da Leo in Lucca, Italy - Fab food, lively crowd, and innexpensive

James Martin
It was November. It was cold and wet in Lucca. Three of us huddled around da Leo's outdoor menu for warmth. We were searching for soup. Not ordinary soup; stick-to-your-ribs hearty soup. We found it, and much more...

Traditional Cuisine of Lucca - and no Tourists!...(besides us)

Inside, the Trattoria da Leo was warm and inviting, annimated by locals digging into hearty Italian chow with almost as much vigor as they were putting into their joyous exclamations when someone they knew entered the restaurant. My kind of place.

We were hustled over to a table at the front. The wine had anticipated us; a carafe of red was already on the table. "Va bene rosso?"

"Certo!" we exclaimed in unison. We knew what we wanted. Besides the wine, I mean. Zuppa. Hot, steaming soup. After a little give and take with the waitress, two orders of Minestra di Farro Lucchese showed up. Spelt soup. I'm glad I didn't have to do the spelling, but it really was thick, hot and delicious. Martha's Zuppa alla Frantiana, an even thicker vegetable soup thickened with bread, was a warming treat as well. Cost? 4.80 Euros for a huge bowl.

The Main Courses at Trattoria da Leo

Trattoria da Leo Outside

Trattoria da Leo in Lucca, Italy: The outside dinning area is on the right

James Martin
I Secondi, the "second" courses, were tough to chose from. I wanted everything.

But hold on a minute. I'm not talking haut cuisine here. We've got stuff like Pollo Fritto con Verdure Miste Fritte, fried chicken with fried vegetables, or the more typical Cotechino con Fagioli all'Uccelletto, a fat, boiled sausage with white beans in tomato sauce. Hearty country food, in other words.

The scaloppine with Chianti and pine nuts was about as fancy as it gets, and the dish was quite good. Not as good as my Cotechino, but it would certainly do, especially for 8.80 Euros.

In Italy, the vegetables are often served on the side. Called Contorni, they're the "contour" between meat and whatever comes after. Trattoria da Leo had some interesting choices. We had Beet Greens with Chili Peppers, Cipolline al Forno (little roasted onions) and Finocchi alla Parmigiana, fennel with Parmigiano cheese. Each was 2.80 Euros. Each was fantastic.

The house wine was decent, the price better: 3.40 Euros a half liter. A bottle of the good stuff from the Colline Lucchese, would have set us back 10 Euros or so.

Remember when comparing prices that in Italy, the price is pretty much the final price; tax and service are included.

Trattoria da Leo - The Bottom Line

Trattoria da Leo was a blast. I loved the animated diners who must eat here quite often--everyone seemed to know everyone else. Part of the Italian restaurant experience is in the joy you see manifested in people enjoying their meal right beside you.

Trattoria da Leo has a little place outside for summer dining. It's small, so you might want to come early or reserve. I really liked the place, and would return again in an instant.

Trattoria da Leo
Vea Tegrimi, 1
55100, Lucca
Telephone: 0583-492236

(To see the picture of da Leo's outdoor eating area larger, see Wanderer's Eye: Lucca Street Scene.)

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